By Scott Tibbs, March 29, 2012
There were two good common-sense laws passed in this session of the general assembly relating to alcohol and the consumption of it. While these are good developments, it is unfortunate that these were not put in place decades ago. Nonetheless, it is good to see some sanity creeping into our alcohol policy that still has influences from Prohibition.
First, people who are walking home or riding in a vehicle will not be subject to arrest provided they are not causing problems. The Republican candidate for Mayor raised this issue in 2003 and drew derision from the Left.
This legislation really should not have been necessary. There is no need to mess with someone who is doing exactly what he is supposed to do by walking home or being driven by a sober friend. We do not want people to be drinking and driving, so law enforcement should not be acting in a manner that discourages responsible behavior. It should not have taken legislative action to curb overzealous law enforcement - that should have been in place years ago as a matter of internal policy.
The second step toward sanity (not to mention compassion) is the Lifeline law recently signed by Governor Daniels. This would exempt underage adults from charges of illegal consumption (and a few other things) if they have called 911 to report another person who has consumed far too much alcohol and is dangerously intoxicated.
Given the unfortunate prevalence of binge drinking, this will probably save some lives. Prior to this law, underage adults had a disincentive to call for medical attention for a dangerously intoxicated person. With that disincentive removed, hopefully more people will seek medical attention sooner. Of course, not getting so plastered drunk that your life is in danger in the first place would be the best policy, but promptly seeking medical attention once that foolish choice has been made is critical.
It would be better if underage adults were not prohibiting from drinking alcohol at all. I know I have said this repeatedly, but it is more than a little silly that an 18-20 year old can fight, kill and die in a war but cannot legally have a beer in his own living room while watching a football game. While I do not expect the drinking age to be lowered to a more common-sense level any time soon, it would be good public policy.